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Identification cards of people linked to the operation, including Airan Berry. Photo: Miraflores Presidential Palace/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Venezuelan court on Friday sentenced two ex-U.S. special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a failed operation to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, AP reports.

Why it matters: The case comes amid heightened tensions between Washington, D.C., and Caracas after the Trump administration last year publicly supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has vowed to oust Maduro through a military uprising.

  • Luke Denman and Airan Berry, both decorated former Green Berets, were found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking in illegal arms and terrorism.
  • Their lawyers said they were barred from judicial proceedings Friday night, adding the court violated their constitutional right to a defense.

What happened: “Operation Gideon” launched from Colombia in early May and left at least eight rebel soldiers dead while another 60 were jailed, per AP.

  • Another former Green Beret, Jordan Goudreau, took responsibility for the failed attack and said he hired Denman and Berry to prepare for the attack.
  • Venezuelan prosecutors have ordered Goudreau's arrest, though he is believed to be in the U.S.

American officials have denied a role in the raid, and have not said what knowledge they have about camps in Colombia that the group used to organize the operation.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration would work to win Denman and Berry's freedom, according to AP.

Go deeper

7 mins ago - World

Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

NYT: Biden won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.